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Resolutions for a Sustainable New Year
by Roslynn Brain McCann & Kate Weigel

It’s that time again when folks are making resolutions to better themselves and their communities. Why not make sustainability a part of your goals for 2021? Here are some ideas for resolutions you can make in your home, landscape, and transportation to make the new year a greener and more resilient one.

In the home: Did you know that residential and commercial buildings are responsible for nearly forty percent of the United States’ yearly carbon dioxide emissions? Across Utah, about two thirds of our energy comes from burning coal. For a big change in your environmental footprint, consider installing solar panels on your home in 2021. There are federal and statewide tax credits for installing solar in Utah, and with high levels of solar irradiance in the Southwest, there will be more energy produced with a solar installation here than in many other parts of the country. For a smaller step towards reduced home emissions, consider adding or replacing worn out weather-stripping around doors and attic accesses, or resolve to set the thermostat a few degrees cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer.

Landscape: Utah is the second driest state in the USA. With average water usage per home in the Moab/Spanish Valley area totaling about 185,000 gallons per year, every drop of water counts. This could be the year you resolve to tear out the lawn and plant native, drought-resistant plants in your landscape. For a big effect on your water usage, take advantage of the newly updated greywater code in Utah to install a greywater system that uses water from your laundry, bathroom sinks, bathtubs and showers to grow plants that will benefit you and the local wildlife. Many people also think that harvesting rainwater is illegal in Utah, but this is not the case! Each parcel of land in Utah is allowed up to 2,500 gallons of rainwater collection at a time. Moab only receives about 9 inches of rainfall a year, but large rain barrels can help spread out our precious water resources when they are available. For a smaller change towards a greener landscape, spread seeds of native wildflowers to provide pollination resources for the approximately 900 species of bees that call Moab home, or plant a well-placed deciduous shade tree to cool your home in the summer.

Transportation: For a big impact in your emissions, set an intention this year to use a bicycle for local trips around Moab, or switch to an electric vehicle in 2021. Not only can regular bike riding improve your mood and overall health, it can help improve the air quality in our community. Ideas for smaller changes to your transportation include consistently inflating your tires to the proper PSI and committing to be idle-free this year. In most vehicles, if you are idling more than 10 seconds, it wastes less gas to turn the key and restart when it’s time to move again. Driving slower on the highway can also reduce your energy usage, as a typical vehicle is most efficient between 50 and 65 miles per hour. Driving even a few miles per hour slower on the highway can save you money and fuel.

For more environmental resolution ideas, consider committing to volunteering time or talent with a local organization that promotes sustainability and environmentalism such as the Resiliency Hub, Moab Solutions, Youth Garden Project, Community Rebuilds, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance or Wabi Sabi. These are just a few ways to help you make 2021 the year you resolve to tread lightly on the earth. Together we can make the Moab community more biodiverse, water-wise, and energy efficient.

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